If you’ve ever wondered what to do with a sweatshirt with a bleach stain or a pair of shoes that you feel guilty throwing away but know aren’t really wearable, don’t fear. You can put them in a separate bag and mark them “salvage.” Most Goodwill locations in the United States will recycle them for you by putting them through their “salvage stream.” Instead of going into a landfill, salvaged items can be recycled into rugs, textiles, and many other things. Ask your local store about their policy and process for accepting salvaged items.
How it works
Step 1. Your trash, my treasure!
After you clean out your closet and bag all of your clothes and drop them off at a Goodwill donation site, the clothes get sorted to hit the retail store racks. This is when your donated item becomes someone else’s treasure.
Step 2. The outlet store
If the item doesn’t sell at a regular Goodwill retail store, it goes to the Outlet store or the “bins.” Here, items are placed in massive bins and sold by the pound. Click here for tips on how to shop the “bins”
Step 3. A whole new life: Salvage and recyclables
If the item doesn’t sell at the outlet store, it goes into the salvage stream. This is where things really take on a new life. Instead of going into a landfill, salvaged items can be recycled into rugs, textiles, and many other things. Keep these items in mind as you clean out your closets: belts, hats, stuffed animals, shoes, books, purses, metals, and computers. Consider donating those items to salvage, even if they are slightly damaged.
So many of don’t think twice about the donation process. We bag it up, drop it off, and feel relieved to not have to think about that item gathering dust in our homes. I find it to be quite reassuring that my blouse or purse can take on a whole new life after I donate it to Goodwill, be it with a new owner or in the salvage stream to transform itself into something new.
Watch this video to see how clothes get recycled (start at the 2 minute mark!)
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